The Times West Virginian

September 8, 2013

WVU’s DeForest allegedly paid players at OSU

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — As hot as it was in Norman, Okla., for the West Virginia University players as they took the field in 90-degree weather against Oklahoma, it was hotter for Mountaineers’ special teams coordinator Joe DeForest.

Hours before game time, a report came out in an Oklahoma newspaper that DeForest was named in an upcoming Sports Illustrated report on improprieties in the Oklahoma State football program for paying players for performance while an assistant coach at the school.

DeForest was said to have denied the charges.

Even though West Virginia is not in any way involved in the magazine’s findings, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck issued a statement 90 minutes prior to the game saying the school would look into the matter to assure itself that its program is clean.

“West Virginia University is aware of an upcoming investigative reporting series in Sports Illustrated which — while focused on another institution — includes allegations against one of our current assistant football coaches regarding his time of employment at his previous Institution,”  Luck said.

“Upon learning of the pending investigative report, WVU launched an internal review to ensure the coach’s full compliance to NCAA rules while at West Virginia. The NCAA has also been contacted. While our assistant football coach has denied the allegations, it is the right thing to do to look into the matter and review practices here.”

NewsOK.com said OSU had been told that SI was reporting 85 percent of the violations occurred between 2001 and 2007, which means the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations has passed. For most of that time Les Miles was head coach at Oklahoma State.

Miles currently is head coach at LSU.

DeForest worked 11 years at OSU before coming to WVU with Dana Holgorsen in 2011.

DeForest was said to be paying performance bonuses to players during that time, as recently as his final year at the school. The report in SI also is said to claim coaches and boosters were paying athletes, that there were academic improprieties ranging from players not attending class to grade changing to tutors doing work for players, and widespread drug abuse and a drug policy that isn’t uniformly administered.

The football culture was said to have begun changing after present head coach Mike Gundy replaced Miles.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.